Diabetes and polyuria (frequent urination)

Polyuria, the production of an abnormally large amount of urine, is often associated with diabetes.

Polyuria is a fairly common condition. However, excessive urination is one of the main symptoms reported by people with diabetes before diagnosis.

Many people with diabetes occasionally experience polyuria even after diagnosis.

In this article, we will explore the causes of polyuria and its relationship to diabetes.

What is polyuria?

Polyuria is the medical term for when a person produces excessive amounts of urine.

Excessive urination is usually noticed when someone urinate more often than is normal for them, or if they have more urine in their bladder each time they urinate than is typical.

However, pollakiuria and urinary urgency are different symptoms from polyuria. Polyuria specifically refers to the total volume of urine produced by the body.

Polyuria should always be reported to your doctor or healthcare provider, especially if it cannot be fully explained by a condition you already know about.

Polyuria can also be related to nocturia, which is the medical term for needing to get up more than once a night to go to the bathroom.

How much urine is considered polyuria?

Medical professionals define polyuria as the total amount of urine produced by a person during the day.

If someone drinks a normal amount of fluid – about 2 liters or 68 fluid ounces per day – then the normal amount of urine to produce is 800 ml per 2 liters of urine.

However, many factors, from exercise to outside temperature and humidity, to medications and coffee intake, can affect these numbers, and it’s not always a condition that can be diagnosed. People may also urinate more or less depending on their level of hydration.

For an adult, the National Library of Medicine considers polyuria to be the production of more than 2.5 liters (68 ounces – or just over 2.5 quarts) of urine in 24 hours.

Some people with undiagnosed diabetes may urinate up to 15 liters of fluid per day, which is an extreme case of polyuria, but it is possible.

How often is too much to pee?

First, there is no fixed number of times a day someone should or shouldn’t pee. However, the average person pees 6-7 times a day on average.

People can urinate 4 to 10 times a day and this can be considered healthy if it doesn’t interfere with your daily life. However, people with polyuria, because they produce more urine than usual, will also pee more than normal.

Peeing an average of more than 10 times a day can be considered polyuria, especially if it is disruptive to your schedule and life.

If you are urinating more than usual or more than once a night and are producing large amounts of urine every time you pee, you may want to talk to your doctor.

If you are peeing frequently but not productively, you may have a prostate problem (men only) and may want to talk to your doctor.

What are the symptoms of polyuria?

Symptoms of polyuria include:

  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Getting up more than once a night to urinate
  • Feeling the need to urinate immediately after using the bathroom
  • The feeling that you are not emptying your bladder completely, even while using the bathroom and immediately after

What are the most common causes of polyuria?

Polyuria is a symptom of several conditions, including:

  • Undiagnosed type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or prediabetes
  • High blood sugar in people diagnosed with diabetes
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • Ketosis, especially when combined with high blood sugar or when someone is first in ketosis at the start of a ketogenic diet
  • Kidney damage caused by disease, infection or physical injury
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Liver disease
  • Overactive bladder
  • Enlarged prostate or other prostate problems (in men)
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Pregnancy
  • Some prescription drugs

In the most mild case, polyuria can also be the result of simply drinking a lot of fluid, although in these cases it will disappear once fluid intake returns to normal.

Why does diabetes cause polyuria?

Diabetes, most commonly undiagnosed diabetes, causes polyuria due to high blood sugar levels.

When the body does not have enough insulin or there is no insulin in the blood, the cells cannot digest the glucose from the food that is eaten. When this glucose enters the bloodstream, it causes high blood sugar.

When blood sugar levels stay high, the kidneys produce more urine to try to flush excess glucose out of the body.

This cycle also causes the classic symptom of diabetes of excessive thirst; because people with undiagnosed diabetes urinate so often, the brain tells the body to drink more to replenish any lost fluids.

This can be a dangerous cycle if someone’s blood sugar doesn’t drop quickly. If you struggle with both excessive thirst and excessive urination, and you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, contact your doctor immediately.

If you experience both excessive urination and excessive thirst and have been diagnosed with diabetes, check your blood sugar immediately and check for ketones.

If your blood sugar is dangerously high and you have moderate or high ketones, see your doctor right away.

Diabetes itself does not cause polyuria; high blood sugar. If you have high blood sugar and are urinating more than normal, after taking insulin (or another prescribed diabetes medicine) and your blood sugar returns to normal, your polyuria usually goes away.


Polyuria is a condition in which the body produces an excessive amount of urine. In fact, it is a symptom of many different conditions, including undiagnosed diabetes, high blood sugar in diagnosed diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, pregnancy, kidney infections, urinary tract infections, and even prostate problems.

The typical person urinates no more than 2 liters a day, and usually 6 to 8 times a day. However, a person with polyuria may urinate more than 15 liters a day and many times during the day and night.

If you have symptoms of polyuria, including increased urine output (for no reason such as excessive water or coffee consumption), increased frequency of urination, constantly feeling the need to use the bathroom, or getting up multiple times during the night to use the bathroom, you may want to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Diabetes is a common cause of polyuria caused by untreated high blood sugar. When the body lacks insulin, blood glucose levels rise and the kidneys produce more urine to try to flush the excess sugar out of the body.

This can quickly lead to dehydration and another classic symptom of diabetes, excessive thirst.

If you suspect you have undiagnosed diabetes, or have been diagnosed with diabetes and are experiencing these symptoms, get your blood sugar checked immediately, and ideally, check for ketones as well.

If blood sugar levels are not brought back into the normal range, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can develop, which can be potentially life-threatening.

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